God & Sex
Hello Church Family,
I hope you’ve been strengthened by the joy of the Lord this week.
A little over a year ago, I started writing this weekly article called Through A Glass Darkly (a title that comes from 1 Corinthians 13) as part of the all-church email in which this column is embedded. The purpose, as I stated in the very first entry, was to “communicate better about what’s going on the life of our church.” Thus I committed to providing something regularly on “vision, mission, community, and spiritual matters.” And I have been grateful for the way it has been received.
With that in mind, I want to let you in on something the Lord’s been stirring in my heart. I am thinking and praying about preaching a four-week series after Easter called God & Sex: A Biblical Exploration of the Divine Purpose Behind Human Sexuality. While I am, as you know, deeply committed to expositional preaching (that is, working through books of the Bible verse-by-verse), I also believe there are occasions in the life of the church where certain topics need be addressed with some urgency and laser-focus. And the issue of sexual ethics keeps coming to the forefront of my discussions. Consider this:
:: In the last month alone, I’ve had at least four conversations related to transgenders and how a Christian might respond in a loving and God-honoring way. Several people have asked me, “How should I refer to a person who was born a he but lives as a she?” Do we displease God when we call John by the name Joan? Or do we show love by honoring the person’s request?
:: Just a few weeks ago, former pastor and provocateur Rob Bell (who ministered in Grand Rapids, Michigan in the late ‘90s, while I was there in seminary) was asked by Oprah Winfrey when the church was going to embrace same-sex “marriage.” His response: “We’re close. … Lots of people are already there … I think culture is already there, and the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense.”
:: Recently, in my son’s eighth-grade history class, students were asked by the teacher to choose a side of the room, either in favor of gay marriage or against. When a small handful of students took the side in support of traditional marriage (one woman and one man for life), they were derided to such an extent that all except three sheepishly migrated to the other side: my son and two others.
:: As of 3:00 p.m. this afternoon (Thursday), the movie Fifty Shades of Grey had grossed over $400 million worldwide. It may top the half-billion dollar mark. And many of the proceeds boosting that total came from professing Christians. I’ve neither read the book nor seen the movie, so I can’t speak too knowledgeably about the film, but I do think we should be prepared with an answer to this question: should a movie about sexual bondage between two unmarried people attract the favorable interest of those who follow Christ?
These examples represent only a few of the questions I’ve been confronted with lately. And I’m sure that you’ve been asked plenty, as well. This is an issue that cannot be avoided. Yet, “sadly,” as one national columnist wrote recently, “many Christians have treated Christian sexual morality as something to be embarrassed about—to be shoved at the end of the conversation or minimized by reference to other good works. As if the formation of lifelong, loving relationships is somehow secondary to good deeds in soup kitchens or medical mission trips.”
Please pray for me. Please ask God to give me wisdom in how I might shepherd this congregation through this controversial new frontier. And if you have an opinion on how necessary a sermon series might be, please send me an email.
For His Glory,